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The Copley Press has laid off more than half of the newsroom employees at Today’s Local News, a weekly publication that serves part of North County in conjunction with The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The paper laid off eight or nine workers on Tuesday, including reporters, page designers and copy editors, said a staffer who asked to not be named. The layoffs accounted for about 60 percent of the newsroom at Today’s Local News, the staffer said.

A Copley Press spokesman didn’t return a request for comment by late this afternoon.

The four-year-old Today’s Local News is distributed for free to about 70,000 households along the Highway 78 corridor in North County. The paper serves Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Vista and Escondido.

Households that already receive The San Diego Union-Tribune are not supposed to get the paper, which was created to help bolster the U-T in its battle against the North County Times.

The U-T has bragged to advertisers that it reaches more households through the daily newspaper and Today’s Local News than the North County Times. However, some residents complained that they received the paper on their doorsteps without asking for it.

Today’s Local News was published twice a week until mid-September, when it began being published only on Sundays. It had been published five days a week.

Earlier cutbacks came in October 2006, when 26 of about 50 positions were eliminated.

Employees at Today’s Local News were surprised that the publication will continue to exist separately from the Union-Tribune, the staffer said.

“We thought, ‘This is it, they’ll tell us they’re closing Today’s Local News,’” the staffer said. “We all expected something like this was going to happen. But we didn’t think it would involve the company salvaging Today’s Local News.”

— RANDY DOTINGA

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